12.7. Troubleshooting Email Problems
When you're having trouble sending a piece of email, don't immediately blame yourself. Email sleuthing involves more suspects than an Agathie Christie novel . Here are some of the more common email problems, as well as their fixes:
Mail won't send to a newly added address . It takes only one typo to spoil delivery. Email programs like Outlook Express fill out the email addresses of friends automatically from your Address Book (Section 12.5), but if a newly added address gives you trouble, check with the recipient to make sure you're spelling it correctly.
Mail suddenly stops sending or receiving, but you can still connect to the Internet . This happens when your ISP's mail server goes down temporarily. It happens to the best of them. These glitches usually last from a few minutes to several hours, and your only course of action is to wait. (To send an urgent piece of email, try using a Web-based email service [Section 12.1.4] like Gmail or Yahoo.)
No email will send . When you haven't been able to send any email, the problem may lie with your email program. Run the setup program that comes with Outlook Express (Section 12.2), or any other email program, to make sure you've entered the following items correctly: your user name , password , and the ISP's mail server names (see Section 12.2 for complete details).
No Internet connection or email . When you lose your Internet connection, you have no alternative but to wait until your ISP restores service. If you're desperate, drop by a library, an Internet Caf , or other publicly accessible PC (Section 11.1). Make sure you've connected your PC to the Internet correctly, though (Section 11.6.1), before you rush out of the house.
Your recipient's email address no longer works . You don't have any control over this one, either. If you're having trouble sending mail to a friend, her ISP's email server might not be working. There's not much you can do but ride it out.
Mailbox unavailable . When your sent message returns to you with the subject "Mailbox unavailable" or something similar, you're seeing the PC equivalent of an answering machine that's too stuffed with messages to accept more. Since the recipient's mailbox can't hold any more messages, his ISP sent it back to you to resend at a later time. The recipient probably hasn't logged on for awhile. Or maybe somebody sent him digital photos without resizing them first (Section 5.5), immediately filling up his mailbox.
When a sent message returns to your Inbox, resend it and hope for the best. Since most mail programs don't offer a Resend option, choose Forward, instead, to send your message as an attachment. Add a note about how your original message bounced. If it bounces yet againand you're sure you have the right email addresstry waiting a day or two before sending it. You may just have to reach for the telephone.
12.7.1. Stopping Spam
Unfortunately, the battle against spam unsolicited emailed advertisementscan't be won easily. Sending one email costs the same as sending one million, making it an irresistible advertising tool. And believe it or not, it's profitable. Some deluded souls really do buy stuff from spammersor at least they send them money; the goods aren't always delivered.
Finally, sending spam is already illegal in many areas, but that's no deterrent. The current email system doesn't offer a foolproof way of tracking a sender's identity. That makes the laws difficult to enforce.
More and more antivirus programs like Trend Micro's PC-cillin Internet Security (www.trendmicro.com) and Norton's Internet Security (www. symantec .com) include spam management programs. These programs install special filters on your PC that watch email you dump into a special Spam folder. As the programs recognize patterns between the mail you toss and the mail you keep, they begin taking over, automatically dumping suspected spam into your Spam folder.
Although spam can't be banished completely, these tactics can help reduce the amount of spam hitting your mailbox:
Ask your ISP if they have a spam filter. Some ISPs put filters in place that trap spam before it hits your mailbox. ISPs are constantly bombarded with spam, and when they see 5,000 messages flowing in from one address, they can turn off that spigot, keeping it from reaching the rest of their customers.
When buying products, signing up for Web site access, or registering products, turn on the No checkbox if they ask to send you marketing materials.
Create a disposable email address at Yahoo, or another free email service (Section 12.1.4). Use this address for email conversations that don't really matterregistering at a free Web site, for instance. When that email starts drawing too much spam, delete it from Outlook Express (Tools Account; click the disposable email addresss name and then click the Remove button.) Then create a new disposable address and start over.
Never click the "Remove Me" link from spam; when you click such a link, you let the spammers know that your email address works, that you read your email, and that you're a perfect candidate for their next mailing.
Add the spammer's address to your blocked senders list, described in the next section.
12.7.2. Blocking Offensive Senders
Remember the childhood ploy of plugging your ears and whistling when you didn't want to hear somebody? Outlook Express offers a similar way of dealing with people who continually send annoying or harassing messages.
When you open a message only to find something offensivespam, insults, or something from somebody you'd rather not hear fromchoose Message Block Sender. Outlook Express adds the senders name to your Blocked Senders list (affectionately named a "Twit Filter" by net-savvy citizens ), and presents a dialog box offering to remove all of that person's messages from that current folder. (Click Yes to remove them; click No to leave the messages in place.)
The next time Outlook Express notices an incoming message from that sender, it automatically kicks it into your Deleted Items folder rather than your Inbox.
If you discover you've banished somebody accidentally , or you've shaken hands and made up, remove her from your blocked senders list by clicking Tools Message Rules Blocked Senders List. Click her name on the Blocked Senders list and then click the Remove button to bring her back into your social circle.
Unfortunately, the Blocked Senders list rarely works as a spam killer, as most spammers create a new email address for every batch of spam. But adding spam addresses to your Blocked Senders list provides a sense of moral satisfaction for many people.